NBA Basketball

Nuggets overtake Doncic-less Mavericks

Playing on the road the first night back from a long All-Star break required the Denver Nuggets to slowly shake off some rust before drilling the Dallas Mavericks with a third-quarter barrage for a 114-104 victory Friday night.

Denver trailed for much of the first half against an outmanned Dallas team that played without rookie sensation Luka Doncic for just the third time this season. The 19-year-old was a surprise scratch before the game due to a sore right knee.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said the injury is not serious and that Doncic would be listed as day-to-day. Dallas is back in action Saturday night at Utah.

Denver shot just 36.5 percent in the first half but slowly clawed back to take a 52-51 lead into the locker room. Once the third quarter started, the Nuggets were off to the races. An 8-0 start to the quarter became 20-8 and then 36-17 as they eventually scored 39 points in the quarter on 14-of-27 shooting for an insurmountable 91-74 lead.

The Nuggets ultimately received a balanced scoring attack. Nikola Jokic posted a team-high 19 points along with 13 rebounds and eight assists, while Paul Millsap had 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas, in just his second game back from a hip injury, had 16 points off the Denver bench, nailing four 3-pointers. Malik Beasley had 13 points, Jamal Murray and Mason Plumlee each had 12, and Will Barton scored 10.

The road victory was a big one for the Nuggets, who now head home for a three-game homestand against Western Conference foes all currently positioned in playoff slots, the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, who are right on Denver's heels, and then the Jazz.

Dallas' offensive woes continued since trading away four of its starters.

Without Doncic to carry the scoring load, rookie guard Jalen Brunson, starting for Doncic, finished with a game-high and career-best 22 points, but he also committed six of Dallas' 15 turnovers. Reserve forward Dwight Powell had 20 points, while Dorian Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. each scored 13.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 22, 2019

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